Saturday, October 25, 2008

Suboptimal Design

In college I took a class on evolution, it was very enlightening and I really enjoyed it. One of the topics we talked about was suboptimal design; it is related to how suboptimal design is evidence for evolution as it shows suboptimal structures that must be the product of evolution, as no good/intelligent engineer would actually have designed (hence nullifying creationism for some people).

Anyway, I was reminded the other day of my own suboptimally designed structures. In humans, the air-way crosses the food path leading to the possibility that you can choke every time you breathe while you are eating. For most people, this results in mostly just choking; however, for me, it is more common for food to go the other way, and then it gets stuck up my nose. It is terrible, awful. Seriously, terrible.

Other things I think may qualify as suboptimal design (disclaimer, I'm sure many of these have functions which I'm not aware of):
  1. Nerves in teeth. Seriously, root canals, tooth aches, temperature sensitivity, all terrible.

  2. The natural body odor of humans is generally repulsive in scent to other humans. I haven't heard of any other animal which is repulsed by its own scent; generally, it's the opposite, it attracts mates.

  3. The structure of our eyes, as well as many other animal eyes, is such that we have a blind spot.

  4. Appendices which lead to appendicitis. I'm pretty sure the appendix is vestigal, but appendicitis can be pretty risky and painful.


Anonymous said...

Well, approximately 6,000 years ago, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden because they sinned and ate some fruit from the tree of knowledge. Before that time they were perfect. Since then everything has been degenerating. God designed everything perfectly and He made everything perfect, but then Adam and Eve messed it up and wanted knowledge. Back then you could probably breathe and eat at the same time and not choke or get chocolate milk up your nose. Plus, I'm pretty sure amniote embryos had a use for those gills that was corrupted thanks to Adam. Now doesn't that sound better than those godless theories?

Anonymous said...

Stephen Hawking said he is "not religious in the normal sense," and "I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws."
Meanwhile, the catholic church teaches "theistic evolution" which accepts the idea that God uses the evolutionary process to form life.
In that sense, perhaps the earth and all its inhabitants are still in a state of creation. Thus the problem of suboptimal design does not negate creation by God, but it certainly may negate stupid (unenlightened) ideas about God and creation.

endless mike said...

if you didn't have nerves in your teeth, you'd probably break your teeth because you wouldn't know when to stop chewing without putting your tongue in the way, and you wouldn't want to do that... fyi, I've just wandered on to your blog via interest links.